Books · REVIEWS

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich

“The right piece of information can be truly devastating if it’s precisely aimed.”

There is a secret organization that cultivates teenage spies. The agents are called Love Interests because getting close to people destined for great power means getting valuable secrets.

Caden is a Nice: The boy next door, sculpted to physical perfection. Dylan is a Bad: The brooding, dark-souled guy, and dangerously handsome. The girl they are competing for is important to the organization, and each boy will pursue her. Will she choose a Nice or the Bad?

Both Caden and Dylan are living in the outside world for the first time. They are well-trained and at the top of their games. They have to be – whoever the girl doesn’t choose will die.

What the boys don’t expect are feelings that are outside of their training. Feelings that could kill them both.

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Personal Thoughts:

The Love Interest is a mix of espionage, dystopia and lgbt story that took a light approach in combining these massive genre without being overwhelming.

Caden and Dylan are love interest, both groomed and trained by the LIC (Love Interest Compound), a secret organization that send out spies to get and sells informations from important people such as celebrities, politicians, scientist, and the likes. Caden is a “nice” while Dylan is a “bad” who both need to act accordingly. They are both assigned to a science prodigy, Juliet. Their mission is to infiltrate Juliet’s life and win her heart. But only one boy will win. The winner gets the girl and spy her by reporting every important details of her life to LIC or whatever the LIC wants. While the loser meets the end of his life. Both Caden and Dylan will do anything to win, but they are not prepared for their feelings to get in between. And in this game of life and death, how will the know what’s real and what is not? Who will survive the game of manipulation?

It only took few chapters for me to realize that The Love Interest is no ordinary spy novel. There still actions, conspiracy and secret organizations, but instead of a serious tone, The Love Interest went to a lighter approach. It even pokes fun at different novel stereotypes particularly in the field of YA, while being one itself.

“No one finds the love of their life while they’re a teenager.”
“You haven’t read any YA novels recently, have you?”

Caden the narrator and protagonist though contemplative like other spies, is not the over observant and skillful guy I expected from a spy. He isn’t few steps ahead like other spies I love, but what I like about Caden is how he questioned things around him. Right from the start he don’t agree on his “nice” boy label. His thoughts shows how much he wants to be free, to just be himself even at times when he doesn’t know what he really is. He wants to write his own story and not just be a tool for the LIC.

“…it irks me that she thinks labeling me is okay now. Like, by liking guys, I automatically take on that role in her life. That I’m suddenly a supporting character in her story rather than the hero of my own.”

Even if things are confusing for Caden, and even if he doesn’t have much choice in everything, he still hope to find his freedom and try to be his own-self.

The only mild complaint is how the ending seems rushed, which in a way makes the conflict too easily resolved. As much as I cheer for the main characters, I also feel like they easily defeat a supposedly powerful organization. Sure they have a genius scientist who can make powerful weapons, but a five teenagers to easily shutdown LIC is not exactly believable. There are reasons why the organization exist for so long, and manage the in and out of their operations without getting caught by the government or other powerful organizations.

On the whole, THE LOVE INTEREST is an intriguing and fun debut novel from Cale Dietrich. It has promising ideas that if explored more would definitely make a very good spy novel.

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* This review is based on an advance reader’s copy I received courtesy of the publisher, MacMillan International in exchange of honest opinion about the book.

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